You don't have to look much further than it's price to know that the Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer is meant for a small to medium-size office or workgroup. That said, if you have any doubts about its suitability for heavy-duty use, the rated maximum monthly duty cycle for printing, at 150,000 pages with a recommended maximum of up to 15,000 pages, should tell you everything you need to know. Add in the fast speed on our tests, the reasonably high quality output, the 7-inch color touch-screen control panel, and the low cost per page, and it's a compelling pick for Editors' Choice.
The B3465dnf isn't the first small office mono laser MFP we've seen with a color touch screen. The much less expensive Dell 2355dn Multifunction Mono Laser Printer has one, for example. However the B3465dnf's touch screen stands out as being big enough so it would be at home on a floor standing departmental MFP or copier. A full 7 inches diagonally, it's bright and highly readable. It also offers a well designed, easy to use set of menus for faxing, scanning, direct email, and more. And it offers audible feedback in response to a touch, so you know when it accepts a command.
In addition to the touch screen, the B3465dnf's front panel adds several physical buttons, including a numeric keypad, Cancel and Start keys, and a Home key for returning the menus to the main screen. All are duplicates for options that show on the touch screen, but it's sometimes more convenient to have a physical button that you know where to find quickly. The keypad also gives tactile feedback, which can be helpful for entering a fax number or the like.
One of the advantages of a large touch screen control panel is that there's room for lots of information. If you enable all of the options, the home screen will show choices to Change Language, Copy, Fax, E-Mail, send to an FTP site, and more, including an option that will let you print frequently used forms or other documents stored on your network, FTP site, or website. Plug in a USB memory key, and you'll see additional choices that let you scan to or print from the USB key.
As you would expect, along with all of these features available from the front panel, you can also print and fax from, as well as scan to, a PC over a network. And if you add the Wi-Fi option ($99.99 direct) you can also print by Wi-Fi from your smartphone or tablet.
Paper handling is another strong point, with both a 550-sheet paper drawer and 100-sheet multipurpose tray standard, along with an automatic duplexer. For most small to medium-size offices, the 650-sheet capacity will be ample, but you can also add up three 550-sheet drawers (at $239.99 direct each, or $284.99 direct for lockable drawers) for a total 2,300 sheet capacity. You can also add a stapler finisher ($249.99 direct).
As you would expect for an office MFP, the B3465dnf supplements the scanner's flatbed with an automatic document feeder (ADF) that can handle legal-size pages. In this case, however, the flatbed is also legal size. And because the 50-page ADF can duplex, by turning the page over to scan the second side, it will work with the duplexer in the printer to let you copy from single or double-sided originals to either single or double sided copies.
Setup and Speed
The B3465dnf is far too large to share a desk with comfortably, at 22.1 by 19.3 by 18.9 inches (HWD), but once you find a spot for it, setup is typical. For my tests I connected it to a wired network and ran my tests from a system running Windows Vista.
Print speed is another strong point. Dell rates the engine at 50 pages per minute (ppm), which should be close to what you'll get when printing a text file with no graphics or photos. On our business applications suite, I timed it (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 15.0 ppm, making it one of the fastest mono laser MFPs we've tested. The 2355dn, for example, came in at only 9.1 ppm, and the much more expensive HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP M525f managed only 12.2 ppm.
As I've already suggested, the B3465dnf scores reasonably well on output quality too. Text is at the high end of the range that includes the overwhelming majority of mono laser MFPs. Small fonts tend to be a little grayish instead of a solid black, but still easily readable. The text isn't quite good enough for desktop publishing applications, but most people should find it suitable for anything short of that.
Graphics quality is just short of the top tier for mono laser MFPs, which makes it easily good enough for PowerPoint handouts and the like. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you may consider it good enough for output going to important clients or customers when you need to convey a sense of professionalism. Photo quality is at the low end of par for a mono laser MFP, but easily good enough to print recognizable photos from Web pages. Depending on your level of perfectionism, once again, you may or may not consider it good enough for, say, photos in a company or client newsletter.
Based just on its output quality, print speed, and standard paper capacity, the Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer offers more than enough to make it a good fit for a small to mid-size office. The ability to copy, fax, email, scan to FTP sites, print from and scan to USB keys, and more, plus the large touch screen with its well designed menu system, makes it even more attractive. For offices with heavy-duty needs, it's an easy pick for Editors' Choice.
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